This week we are talking with Salathiel Palland, organizer of Motor City Steam Con in Michigan.
Airship Ambassador: Hi Salathiel, thanks for joining us for this interview.
Salathiel Palland: Thank you for having me!
AA: Readers may know you from your other steampunk work, Off the Beaten Path bookstore. Now, your latest project is Motor City Steam Con. What is a quick description of the event?
SP: This event is called the Nexus. it is kind of a steampunk Mos Isley Cantina from “Star Wars”. Journeys begin and end here. People can learn something, lose something, Drink, get debauched and just generally have a great time.
AA: Oohh, debauchery. That never happens. Having attended other conventions over the years and being a project manager, I have an idea of the work and details that go into producing a convention. Some people might consider it an insane, masochistic undertaking – what motivated you to produce a steampunk event?
SP: I am so in love with this genre, the whole DIY and beauty plus function. Michigan has always had a strong steampunk community and when we didn’t have a con last year, I decided to step up and make it happen.
AA: One person can make a difference, just like in all the steampunk stories. Why a steampunk convention? Why a convention, at all?
SP: Because we are a people who like to gather and party! We are a very social if polite group and why make all this wonderful clothing and accessories if we can’t show them off.
AA: How does Motor City Steam Con express your vision of steampunk, and what does it add to or differ from the existing events in the community?
SP: So a lot of the steampunk out there features Victoriana as it’s basis, but I am a multicultural steampunk and I want to show a different side. America was around during Victorian times so was Detroit. I want to tell that story of my character in the opening ceremony, coming from the South the “Paris of the Midwest” Detroit. I wanted to put an American slant on it.
AA: If someone likes “X”, then they’ll like Motor City Steam Con. What is “X”?
SP: A good time, good people, and great cosplay! Oh, and to drink. Lol.
AA: What do you think puts this convention on someone’s must attend list?
SP: My opening ceremony is going to be off the hook. I mean I put my back into it. Also, we have a huge and wonderful literary track, as well as a stellar vending room, and fantastic entertainers. We even have a Moonlight cabaret with some of the finest burlesque performers in the state.
AA: Sounds like a great line up of activities. I’m bringing my camera and autograph book, who’s on the Guest list for this year?
SP: Rod Belcher is our literary guest of honor. He wrote the amazing book “Six Gun Tarot” that had me at hello. Ay-Leen the Peacemaker will be there (aka Diana Pho). Steampunk Eddie the winner of the Gameshow network show “Steampunk’d” will be there as will fellow contestants James Neathery and Karianne Gottschalk.
We also have the every delightful Frenchy and the Punk, Eli August, Autmaton, The Lansing Unionized Vaudeville Spectacle, The Lubberly Brothers, Tom Smith, Holly Hock, Leena Lynx Allure, The Amazing Flec, Writers such as Patty Templeton, Emmy Jackson, Cindy Spencer Pape, Christian Klaver, Lori Houlta, Tee Ballantine, Pip Morris, and so many. We even have a visiting roll from Britain, Lord Bobbins himself!
AA: And, ahem, a certain Ambassador 🙂 “A” should be right at the top of the list. “AA” even. Anywaaaay… The mainstay of conventions is panels, interviews, and demonstrations of various types. Where do you get ideas for the programs?
SP: From attending a ton of cons and seeing what interested people and what didn’t, from noticing what was missing, and just wanting different things.
AA: Tea? Is there anything in particular that you look for in a program topic?
SP: I want it to spark my interest immediately, I instantly want to know more about it.
AA: Where do you look for speakers/performers for those programs?
SP: Everywhere! Sometimes the same people tend to show up at cons, but because I travel to so many with the bookstore, I get to see a lot of presenters that would be brand new back home.
AA: When choosing those speakers/performers, what do you look for to get a quality person?
SP: Knowledge of the topic can be taught, I look for someone who’s passionate about what they are talking about, Someone who is engaging, and frankly someone not too annoying or cray cray. There is enthusiasm and then there is the abyss…Lol.
AA: LOL, nope, never seen people like that! What are other key attractions for Motor City Steam Con?
SP: We have an amazing fashion show planned and a beard and mustache contest. We also have gin tastings, and a home brew contest.
Quick break in talking with Sal about the inaugural 2016 convention. Join us in part 2 when she talks about putting a convention together.
Keep up to date with the latest news about Motor City Steam Con on their website.